POEMS FROM DANCE IN THE DIRTHOUSE /PATRICK LAWLER

Edited by /Giorgia Pavlidou

DANCE IN THE DIRTHOUSE

(THE POEM THAT USED TO BE A NOVEL

BEFORE IT WAS A SCRIPT

BEFORE IT WAS A POEM)

PATRICK LAWLER

PUBLISHING, FILM, AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

I have published five collections of poetry: A Drowning Man is Never Tall Enough (University of Georgia Press), reading a burning book (Basfal Books), Feeding the Fear of the Earth (Many Mountains Moving Press), Trade World Center (Ravenna Press), and Child Sings in the Womb (The Bitter Oleander Press).

In 2012, Many Mountains Moving Press published a hybrid text combining poetry, memoir, and interview–Underground (Notes Toward an Autobiography).  Most recently I have an online poetry chapbook published by H_NGM_N Press—Between Hoaxlessness and Hoax.

In addition, my novel Rescuers of Skydivers Search Among the Clouds was the winner of the Ronald Sukenick American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize (2012) and the CNY Book Award for Fiction (2013). In 2014, Four Way Books published a collection of my short stories The Meaning of If

Also, I have had poetry and fiction appear in over one hundred journals including American Letters & Commentary, American Poetry Review, Central Park, The Iowa Review, Ironwood, Many Mountains Moving, Minnesota Review, Shenandoah, Turnrow, DIAGRAM, Slope, Melic Review, Fringe, Black Clock, McSweeney’s and Court Green.  My poetry has been translated into Russian, Dutch, and Spanish, and I was the featured author in the 2009 issue of The Bitter Oleander.

Ted Schaefer, my scriptwriting partner and director, has produced three shorts from scripts we have written: Singing to the Earth Until a Tree Grows, “The Zeno Question,” and “I Fell in Love with the World”—and Schaefer recently filmed our feature Giving Birth to a Butterfly—which was being well received at national and international festivals before

I have received numerous awards and fellowships including a National Endowment of the Arts, two New York State Foundation for the Arts, a Saltonstall, and CNY Book Award for Fiction.   For scripts written with Schaefer, I have received a BlueCat Competition Award and a Davey Foundation Grant.

I teach at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and am a Writer in Residence at Le Moyne College. 

*******************************

TALKING ABOUT DEATH

The first rule is: Every time 

        I talk about death

I must also talk about sex—

which makes some people

feel very uncomfortable 

when I attend funerals.

*****************************

ECOEROTICA

Right through the burlap sack of the heart,

the Grandfather is punctured by roots.

We touch the part of the self that stays buried in sleep.

While forgetfulness settles on the furniture,

memory slides into the tiny cup of the navel.

The Small Boy finds a chrysalis in the field.

*********************

GOD LIVES IN THE PARIETAL CORTEX

Underneath the bridges we start building the rivers

a drop at a time as we unbuckle the clouds.

Of course, there are interior fountains.

Everything I thought I had made up

turned out to be real—though made of the thinnest of glass.

Two atoms thick.          Oh, the breakable         deities.

**********************

THE STAR-FILLED STREETS

That was the year they named the star-filled streets 

after suicides.  This is the question: Where does the body 

begin?  This is the question: Where does the body end?

           “Life is not a closed linear system,” says the Girl 

at the checkout counter who reads Sylvia Plath between customers.

“Night is a cave with stars stuffed inside,” says the intercom.

THE MIND FLOATS IN AND OUT OF ITSELF LIKE A BIRD — A LITTLE YELLOW BIRD

The Grandfather’s eyes are afloat in formaldehyde.

The Grandmother’s jewelry jingles like frozen chimes

around her neck.  Together they are as private

as eggs.  The sky is black and cracked

as if danced on by crows.

The Grandmother holds slumber in a cup.

****************************

A SEED BURIED SO DEEP IT COMES OUT THE OTHER END

        We sit in front of the TV cloud.

We are sex-blessed–

sex-blissed.

Memory is a ruby placed directly in the soul.

The moon pokes out the sky at night

            and comes out the other end.

AS IF SOMEONE PLAYS A RADIO IN A GRAVE

At what point in the novel

does the Protagonist taste the Lover’s tears?

At what point in the novel

does the dead Grandfather state that he is alive–

writing all of this down with one hand,

erasing it frantically with the other.

THE PROTAGONIST = THE MAGICIAN = THE TRICK

Neons                                                             drill through the night.

We celebrate the diner’s sacrament of grease.

In the shops, manikins haunt the dresses.  If you look closely,

you will see their mouths are attached to an incredible hunger.

The town newspaper is devoted to magic journalism–

fascinated with the space between worlds:  OPEN     OPEN

THE DIRT DREAMS THE DANCER

We look out from the glass part of the brain—

while music gently eats                                the body.

We need to learn how to dance when we’re on fire—

our tap shoes sparking.  Ultimately love makes everything

unrecognizable–           a mouthful of brand-new moments.

Tungsten burns inside now–the fire part of the brain.

THE BANDAGES CATCH FIRE

On the psyche floor, they taught us to dance.

A bride in bare wires

acquired the musical stain.

During the autopsy they took out the soul first and weighed it

in order to determine the heft of god.

This is where the insane take their wings off.

WHERE A MAN EATS A BOOK –EZEKIAL 2:9-10

The train is a moving house—the tracks like a zipper.

The train leaves the town the way a knife leaves a wound.

We are travelling to the end of the world

feeding the forest with

  soft bursts of smoke.

In the dining car a man eats a book a word at a time.

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